Hypedome Stories is dropping in to meet Rik Terlyn and get to know his delightful ‘De Sterrenwacht’ spot down by the river in the heart of Belgium. Rik is a friendly, down-to-earth guy from a small town with big dreams of inviting others to rest and reconnect surrounded by the beauty of nature. We paid him a visit to hear how he got started and how his vision is taking shape.
Q: I’m struck immediately by how your glamping site is surrounded by nature. It’s so calm and peaceful. Can you tell us more about the concept of ‘De Sterrenwacht’ and what it means to you?
Rik: I’ll be happy to do that. ‘De Sterrenwacht’ means the guardians of the stars and it’s about feeling like you sleep on a different planet. A guest could sleep on Mars, another on Venus, and they’d both enjoy a bed and breakfast experience unlike any other.
Guests can check in from 5:00 PM onwards and enjoy their domes until 11:00 AM the next day. Every morning I deliver breakfast and always make sure it’s very local. We use the bakery across the street, source everything from nearby, and one of my friends even helped build the platforms for each Hypedome. We’re big when it comes to the local community.
Q: Other than breakfast, what else makes your guests smile?
Rik: My guests come for a chance to immerse themselves in nature and get away from the hectic nature of life at home. I’ve had so many people tell me how much they enjoyed lying back and taking in the stars, which you can freely admire through the large bay window of the dome. I’ve even had a few people ask me to remove Hype.Wall Panels so they can dive deeper into their stargazing experience. I love being flexible and meeting my guests’ needs, so it’s great Hypedome is really easy to modify.
Q: I’m getting a sense that this is all about resting in nature. Is that right?
Rik: Yeah, absolutely! In Italian, they say ‘Dolce Vita’ and that’s the way I want to promote what we’re doing here. I chose the 5 PM check-in time because I want my visitors to go and experience the city. It’s just 2 km away and they can hop on a bike and get there in no time, plus travelling like that is truly relaxing.
I’ll personally share the best places and restaurants I like to go and enjoy, tell them about a bar I own in the city, and let them know all about this beautiful little sushi place we work with. And if they just want to stay on-site, they can have a sushi box that looks like a work of art land right outside their dome. So they can have the fun and nightlife of the city with the peace and tranquillity of resting in nature during the night.
Q: A place as unique as yours looks like a perfect fit for memorable moments. Do you get any requests outside of your resting-in-nature vibe?
Rik: Around 95% of my visitors stay for one night. I’ve had the weirdest requests so far, and it always makes me glad I built this place. There’s been a proposal request when the guest wanted everything out of the dome. Another gentleman told me he was arriving at 04:30 AM because he was getting married the day before. Plus I’ve had birthday parties and all sorts of celebrations. It just goes to show how many people want to get back in touch with nature and discover unique experiences.
Rik and his beautiful ‘dolce vita’ style glamping retreat.
Q: Sounds amazing. How did you initially get started?
Rik: I ordered one dome, and before I even built it up, I put it online and I was getting bookings like crazy! So I decided to get three more. I know a lot of people here in the city, so it was very easy to get those first guests. Then I talked to my friend who was Miss Teen Universe and had a lot of followers and we thought about promoting it together. We did some promotional content one day and the next morning I woke up to 120 bookings! Since then I’ve consistently had 60 to 70 stays per month, and I made everything back within only 6 months, which is incredible. Everyone I speak to about this place says they get the comfort of a hotel room with a connection to nature they won’t find anywhere else. It’s a really popular twist on the glamping niche.
I’ve consistently had 60 to 70 stays per month, and I made everything back within only 6 months, which is incredible.
Q: And why Hypedome given all the glamping options out there?
Rik: Honestly, I actually started looking for tiny homes during the rather bleak COVID days — I’d never really heard or thought of domes before. Tiny homes just seemed so complicated to build and I didn’t want to take on too much. When the pandemic hit everyone kept talking about bubbles. You have to stay in your bubble, with your family because of the danger out there. So then I thought, maybe I can create bubbles and that’s kind of how I came up with the idea of the dome. I just started searching for glamping, bubbles and whatever came to mind. And that’s how I found you guys, and your glamping pods.
Hypedome stood out for me because of the quality of the build and the ease of assembly. I also loved the modular approach you offer. I just had a feeling I could use all that to bring people into my world and invite them to rest in nature. I’ve got 4 of the Hypedome S Clear and nicely kitted them out with accessories like Modular Deck Bases, Lighting Kits and Window Panels.
Q: How has your business changed your life?
Rik: Since I opened I’ve met around 800 people from many different countries, heard some amazing stories, and learned things I’d never have dreamed of, and it’s by inviting people from all walks of life to come and try something new. Not bad for someone so bad at building they’ve been cursed with two left hands! Luckily I had a friend who’s much better with craft work and by the time we got to the fourth dome we had it perfect in an afternoon. It’s given me the opportunity to create a unique experience and it gives you the opportunity to create unforgettable moments when you stay here. And because I made my money back in only 6 months, I’ve also got a viable business that’s really going places. It still surprises me!
Great talking with Rik and getting a feel for how his Dolce Vita experience came together. To learn more about this beautiful little spot, visit De Sterrenwacht’s Instagram. And if you’re excited by what you’ve just read, take a look at our other Hypedome Stories for some more dome-based inspiration. And for us, one thing is for sure, we’re definitely going to get one of those sushi boxes next time we visit!